Having our kids and their spouses choose Thanksgiving on the Big Island of Hawaii for our 50th wedding anniversary celebration was a true gift for us all. Scott, Annie, Liam (11) and Cora (8) came from Seattle and Laura, Tucker, Tenn (4) and Oz (1) traveled from Portland. We headed to the tropics after visiting Val’s sister, Ann, and her husband, Johndale, in Scottsdale to celebrate Ann’s 70 years around the sun.
Over Thanksgiving we celebrated our wonderful family on this diverse island with its lava deserts, unspoiled rain forests, beautiful beaches, snow-covered mountains and the active volcano of Kilauea. Scott wisely chose the Mauna Lani Terraces and Hotel, located about an hour north of Kona, for their kid-friendly accessible pools, lush grassy areas right outside the front door, nearby beaches and meandering trails. We snorkeled with turtles, played in the pools, explored the well-preserved ancient fish ponds, ate fresh local food, and generally enjoyed each other’s company. A highlight for the grandkids was the daily popsicle handout at the big pool – tropical flavors were savored by all.
Laura, Annie, Scott and Tucker planned and executed a lovely last night 50th anniversary fete. They cooked a tasty dinner, we sang many old family favorite songs with Laura’s great guitar accompaniment, and viewed a slide show with music commemorating our 50 years of marriage. There were lots of fine memories with many questions about various photos from our past, including a framed one of our wedding photo. The grandchildren presented an artful 50th alphabet book composed of drawings and adjectives contributed by all ages – quite moving! Liam and Cora’s art teacher produced a lovely salt-glazed pottery set also. It was a most heartfelt and appreciated fete.
Here are photos of our group enjoying the beach and uplands around the Moana Lani resort:
Our Portland and Seattle families spent 4 days on the island and after they had flown home, we based ourselves at an Airbnb for another 4 days of exploration. Our hosts, Tom and Adriane and their niece, Yustina, (who just arrived from Poland), had great ideas for on how to get off the beaten track and were most generous in many ways. One day we sailed and rowed on Hilo Bay in a traditional Hawaiian double-hulled canoe with Kiko, a boat-building friend of Scott’s. Kiko’s handmade boat has hulls which are lashed together and is propelled through the water by a sail unless conditions are not correct, and then the crew paddles. Another day we hiked the steep trail to the bottom of the lush Waipi’o Valley with its taro fields and cascading waterfalls. We trudged through numerous puddles to be rewarded by a lovely mile-long black sand beach. Walking up the 1000 feet of elevation gave us plenty of time to enjoy the tropical landscape! We traveled east and south along the Hamakua Coast where sugar plantations used to exist and discovered Akaka Falls plunging 420 feet. (We failed to see the two creatures who supposedly migrate back up the falls at the end of their life cycle: a goby fish and an ancient shrimp.) Our last dinner was one with traditional Hawaiian cuisine in a Hilo restaurant filled with locals eating lau-lau (chicken, beef or port wrapped in taro leaves and steamed), rice and macaroni salad. Leslie tried the chicken lau-lau and a deliciously decadent lava cake was shared at the end of our final celebratory meal.
Here are a sampling of photos of the great beauty that reveals itself at every turn on the Big Island of Hawaii: